Monday, May 19, 2014

Led Zeppelin Is Getting Sued Over “Stairway to Heaven”

Led Zeppelin Is Getting Sued Over “Stairway to Heaven”

Led Zeppelin Is Getting Sued Over “Stairway to Heaven”

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:27 PM PDT

You may have never heard of the band Taurus, but Led Zeppelin has.

Not only did they play shows with Zeppelin in 1969, but Taurus has now sued them for allegedly lifting what may be one of the most famous riffs in rock history — the opening notes of “Stairway to Heaven.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” attorney Francis Alexander Malofiy said in Bloomberg Businessweek. Malofiy is representing a trust for writer Randy California, the deceased Spirit guitarist who wrote “Taurus,” the instrumental track that appeared on the band’s eponymous 1968 debut album and from which the chord progression is allegedly lifted.

Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page allegedly wrote “Stairway to Heaven” in 1970, two years after “Taurus” was released, and a year after the band shared stages at gigs across the United States in 1969. According to the band’s bass player, Spirit always included “Taurus” in their sets."It was such a pretty moment,” said Mark Andes to Businessweek. “It would typically come after a big forceful number and always got a good response.”

In 1997, California went public with his claims about the origins of “Stairway to Heaven.” "I'd say it was a ripoff," California said in Listener magazine. "And the guys made millions of bucks on it and never said 'Thank you,' never said, 'Can we pay you some money for it?' It's kind of a sore point with me.” However, California and Spirit never sued, even though fans had noted the similarity between the songs for years. “Nobody had any money, and they thought the statute of limitations was done,” Mick Skidmore, who manages California’s trust, explained to Business Week.

Now, as Led Zeppelin prepares to release remastered deluxe versions of their original albums, including “Stairway to Heaven,” California’s trust is finally springing to action with a copyright infringement suit and an injunction that would block Led Zeppelin IV‘s reissue.

“The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on Stairway to Heaven,” Malofiy said. They are most likely seeking monetary reparations as well. Businessweek quotes an estimate that by 2008, “Stairway to Heaven” had earned at least $562 million.

Led Zeppelin and Warner Music had no comment on the story.

Take a listen and judge for yourself:

It sounds familiar, right?

[via Businessweek]

MORE: 11 Suspiciously Sound-Alike Songs


5 Promises Narendra Modi Must Break

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:22 PM PDT

Narendra Modi won India's national elections by a virtually unprecedented parliamentary supermajority, routing the ruling Congress Party. He pulled off this feat by overcoming his image as a militant Hindu nationalist and positioning himself as the Indian avatar of Ronald Reagan, promising to take India's moribund economy to new heights with his formula of "maximum governance, minimum government."

But he also made many unwise campaign promises that directly contradict his mantra. He'll have to break at least five of them if he's to have a prayer of delivering the growth he promised.

1. Stop Propping Up Inefficient Public Sector Companies

More than 20% of India's economy consists of poorly run, federally owned companies. About one-third of them operate on a loss, and the rest return profits of less than 1% annually. Hence, a reformer who believes in "small government" must make aggressive privatization his top priority.

Instead, last month, Modi made the face-palm inducing statement that beating up on these companies has "done much damage" to them. He promised to fix, not sell, them by squeezing out – wait for this! — "administrative inefficiencies." But central planners since Lenin have been trying to do just that without success.

So unless he knows something that they didn't, he'd be doing the country a favor by putting them out of their misery.

2. Abandon Gaudy Infrastructure Projects

There is no doubt that India needs to improve its infrastructure – pathetic even by developing countries' standards – if it wants to boost productivity and growth. (Indians joke that while the British drive on the left of the road, Indians drive on what's left of the road.) But India is a poor country with not a lot of spare change. So a believer in "good governance" would focus, laser-like, on core public goods like sewage, water, roads and electricity. Just upgrading these to minimum international standards, according to global consulting company McKinsey, will require an investment of $1.2 trillion over 20 years, about eight times more than currently proposed.

Instead, Modi has produced an infrastructure development plan as gaudy as Liberace's Christmas tree, complete with "bullet trains in four directions." The bullet train or high-speed rail concept was obviously calculated to pander to India's chauvinistic desire to keep up with China. But these rails are white elephants on which China's autocrats spend unsustainable amounts because they rarely pay for themselves, my Reason Foundation colleague Baruch Feigenbaum points out. So Modi would be better off abandoning them along with his other loopy plans for smart cities and elite universities.

3. Kill Wasteful Subsidies

Modi's stump speeches repeatedly, and rightly, reminded voters that the Congress Party's game of "vote-bank politics" – handing welfare subsidies to special constituencies to win votes – was ruining the country without improving living standards. Modi's solution? More subsidies.

He was totally on board with Congress' scheme to guarantee 100 days of income to rural families without an employed male –- a massive disincentive to work. True, he did criticize the Food Security Act that handled means-tested food assistance. But why? Because it wasn't generous enough. He has pledged to guarantee farmers 50% profits, something that even Congress couldn't bring itself to do.

Worse, his party's platform proposed to add the Right to Health to the long list of rights that the departing party has already put on the books.

If Modi really wants live up to his billing as a Reagan-like reformer rather than becoming the second coming of Jimmy Carter, he ought to get rid of these programs, replacing them with a scaled back direct cash-transfer scheme that hands poor people a lump sum to spend as they see fit. This will have a better shot of reaching the pockets of intended beneficiaries rather than corrupt bureaucrats.

4. Let in Big Box Foreign Retailers

One of the few politically difficult reforms that Congress enacted was allowing foreign supermarkets such as Walmart to own a majority stake in local retail stores. India's $500 billion retail industry is among the most backward in the world and could badly use an infusion of capital and expertise to modernize itself.

However, Modi, this fearless reformer who prides himself on having attracted a record amount of foreign investment in Gujarat, agreed to scrap this law. Why? Because it threatened millions of small mom-and-pop storeowners, his party's core base.

In the last few days, he's started reversing course, telling storeowners to treat globalization as an opportunity, not a threat. That's a tune he should keep humming.

5. Keep Inflation Hawk Raghuram Rajan as India's Central Banker

After experiencing heady growth for about a decade, India has been in the grip of soul-sapping stagflation, with inflation outpacing GDP growth by a factor of two. Congress had wisely invited University of Chicago's Raghuram Rajan to head the Reserve Bank, India's equivalent of the Fed, to tackle inflation.

But Modi has been sending mixed signals about whether he'll keep Rajan. That's because Rajan might insist on an inflation-targeting regime. This will mean keeping interest rates high until inflation has been slashed from the current 9% to 4% or so.

However, this will make government borrowing to finance Modi's gaudy infrastructure plans — as well as private borrowing for capital investments — much more difficult. The latter, sadly, is at an 11-year low, severely crimping jobs and growth.

Modi is admittedly between a rock and a hard place on this. But Reagan, his role model, allowed the central bank to first squeeze out inflation, and so should Modi.

He could raise funds for needed, not feel-good, infrastructure projects by eliminating wasteful subsidies, selling off inefficient public companies and inviting foreign investment, which is all the more reason to break the other four promises.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior policy analyst at Reason Foundation. The views expressed are solely her own.

Judge Strikes Down Oregon Gay Marriage Ban

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:16 PM PDT

PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge has struck down Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane threw out the voter-approved ban Monday.

State officials have said they’d be prepared to carry out same-sex marriages almost immediately, and couples lined up outside the county clerk’s office in Portland in anticipation of the decision.

Four gay and lesbian couples brought suit arguing Oregon’s marriage laws unconstitutionally discriminate against same-sex couples and exclude them from a fundamental right.

State officials refused to defend the ban, and McShane earlier denied a request by the National Organization for Marriage to intervene on behalf of its Oregon members.

An appeals court Monday morning refused the group’s request for an emergency stay of McShane’s decision.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

A federal judge was expected to make Oregon the latest state to allow gay marriage Monday after state officials refused to defend its constitutional ban in court.

Gay couples were poised to tie the knot immediately after a federal appeals court denied a last-minute request to block the judge’s impending ruling that could strike down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Officials in Oregon’s largest county, Multnomah, said they’ll begin issuing marriage licenses immediately if U.S. District Judge Michael McShane’s decision allows it. McShane hasn’t signaled how he’ll rule, but both sides in the case have asked that the voter-approved ban be found unconstitutional.

The judge last week denied a request by the National Organization for Marriage to defend the law on behalf of its Oregon members. On Monday morning, the group appealed that denial to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking an emergency stay of the decision.

But the appellate court quickly denied the group’s request, clearing the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately if a McShane’s ruling allows it.

In Portland, couples lined up outside the county clerk’s office in anticipation of a favorable decision.

Laurie Brown and Julie Engbloom arrived early Monday at the Multnomah County Building to form the line for marriage licenses. The two have been a couple for 10 years. Engbloom proposed in April, when they celebrated their anniversary by climbing Smith Rock in Central Oregon.

“We always knew we wanted to spend our whole life together,” Brown said. “This opportunity has come, it feels right, everything has fallen into place.”

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. Federal or state judges in Idaho, Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, Utah and Arkansas recently have found state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. Judges also have ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

But opposition remains stiff in many places. Critics point out that most states still do not allow gay marriage and that in most that do, it was the work of courts or legislatures, not the people.

Four gay and lesbian couples brought the Oregon cases, arguing the state’s marriage laws unconstitutionally discriminate against them and exclude them from a fundamental right to marriage.

In refusing to defend the ban, Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said there were no legal arguments that could support it in light of decisions last year by the U.S. Supreme Court. She sided with the couples, asking the judge to overturn the ban.

London Cleric Convicted in NYC Terrorism Trial

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:15 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) — An Egyptian Islamic preacher whose fiery sermons before and after 9/11 attracted extremists to his London mosque was convicted Monday in a trial that a prosecutor said should provide justice for the victims of a kidnapping in Yemen more than a decade ago.

The cleric, Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, 55, was found guilty in federal court in Manhattan just weeks after al-Qaeda’s spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks was convicted. Attorney General Eric Holder championed that verdict as a triumph for civil courts.

Mustafa was accused of providing material support to terrorist organizations by enabling hostage takers in the Yemen kidnapping to speak on a satellite phone, by sending men to establish an al-Qaida training camp in Bly, Oregon, and by sending at least one man to training camps in Afghanistan.

He was extradited in 2012 from England, where he led London’s Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, reportedly attended by both Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Mustafa denied that he ever met them.

Mustafa looked straight ahead as the verdict was read.

For much of the past month, jurors watched videotapes and heard audio clips in which Mustafa shouted to his followers, telling them non-Muslims could be treated like animals and women and children who were not Muslim could be taken captive.

But they saw a gentler version of Mustafa on the witness stand, one who spoke confidently in the tone of a college professor as he insisted he never engaged in acts of terrorism or aided al-Qaida.

His testimony over four days was derided by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian McGinley, who told jurors to ignore his lies and concentrate on evidence.

In his closing argument, McGinley read aloud the names of four European tourists who died in 1998 in Yemen after their convoy of cars was overtaken by extremist Islamic kidnappers whom Mustafa had given the satellite phone. McGinley said a guilty verdict would provide a measure of justice for them and another dozen hostages who survived.

“Don’t be fooled by his testimony,” McGinley said. “Don’t let the passage of time diminish what he did.”

Referred by prosecutors and defense lawyers alike by his alias, Abu Hamza al-Masri, Mustafa also explained how he lost both hands and part of his forearms in a 1993 accident when he helped the Pakistani military as a civil engineer.

Two women who were hostages in Yemen also testified. Margaret Thompson, of Texas, who was shot in the leg in a shootout between Yemeni forces and the kidnappers, limped into the courtroom to describe her harrowing 24-hour ordeal.

Mary Quin, a U.S. citizen who now lives in New Zealand, testified that she escaped one kidnapper by putting her foot against his head and wrestling away his assault rifle after he was knocked to the ground by a bullet.

The government played clips of a taped interview Quin conducted with Mustafa in his London mosque as she prepared to write a book about the kidnapping. McGinley told jurors Mustafa boasted to Quin about the kidnappings, saying: “Islamically, it is a good thing.” McGinley said that statement belied Mustafa’s claims that when he spoke to the lead kidnapper during the crisis, he tried to be a peacemaker.

“No one who actually tried to be a peacemaker would say to a victim of that kidnapping that it was a good thing,” he said.

The prosecutor acknowledged Mustafa’s speaking skills, saying he was “good with words,” but also warned, “Don’t buy it.”

“The real Abu Hamza is not the man you see in 2014,” McGinley said.

In his closing, defense attorney Jeremy Schneider warned jurors not to let their judgment be overrun by the emotion of the terrorist acts they heard about repeatedly, including the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors and the Sept. 11 attacks a year later, the memorial for which opened blocks from the courtroom during the trial.

“The vast majority of the evidence is his words, not his deeds,” he said, adding that his client’s statements were taken out of context.

“Many times, his words aren’t connected to what he did,” Schneider said.

Here’s How Netflix Is About to Change Radically

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:07 PM PDT

Using Netflix will not always involve scrolling through endless lists of movies served up by genre or because you watched one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer last summer. A Netflix executive says in the future, the streaming service may not throw hundreds of choices at people all at once.

During a keynote speech during an Internet Week event in New York, Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said Netflix was going to focus on developing more personal recommendations to help alleviate the paradox of choice users feel when trying to sift through thousands of movies and TV shows. "You won't see a grid and you won't see a sea of titles," Hunt said. The company could automatically serve users three or four viewing options based on their tastes. Still, Hunt said it was "somewhat unrealistic" to believe Netflix would ever deliver a completely linear, algorithm-driven experience, the way Pandora does with music.

Netflix has already been experimenting with more efficient recommendations. The company last year introduced Max, a recommendation assistant that serves users up a single movie after they answer a few questions about their mood. Netflix is also working to improve its recommendation algorithm to better tease out what emotional elements people like about certain shows instead of just offering suggestions based on genre or actor.

At TIME, we're still hoping Netflix heeds our suggestion and allows for user-generated playlists of its content, so people can mix and match television episodes the same way they assemble mixtapes. Such a feature could yield lists that are actually useful.

Mad Men: A Brief History of the Real-World Burger Chef

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:06 PM PDT

If there’s one thing that Sterling Cooper & Partners (and its earlier iterations) has a knack for, it’s landing clients that never quite reach the pinnacle of its industry. From Richard Nixon in 1960 to Mohawk airlines and the doomed Chevy Vega, Don Draper and Co. always seem a half-step behind the times. That’s never more true than in the case of Burger Chef, the firm’s latest target as well as a company that likely had the show’s younger viewers scratching their heads and Googling the fast food relic.

That the name Burger Chef is all but lost to history isn’t particularly surprising — in a world dominated by ubiquitous fast food chains (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc.), even regional powers like Carl’s Jr. and Dairy Queen have some difficulty raising their profile on the national stage. Back in 1969, however, Burger Chef was very much a player in the fast food industry, and certainly a client that would bring in plenty of billings for SC&P — even if it wasn’t quite the behemoth that McDonald’s is. And if their slogan from that era (“Burger Chef goes all out to please your family”) is any indication, Peggy is certainly on the right track.

Born in the spring of 1958, Burger Chef, whose name was reportedly chosen to present the new restaurant as a more highbrow version of Burger King, got its start in Indianapolis. It was first to market what has since become a fast food staple: the burger-fries-and-drink combo meal, dubbed the “Triple Threat” and sold for just 45 cents. The chain spread quickly, with franchises opening in Des Moines and Louisiana, but Burger Chef took steps to ensure that the rapid expansion did not diminish quality. According to Flameout: The Rise and Fall of Burger Chef, the training process was a remarkably rigorous one by today’s standards: “New franchises were sent to Indianapolis to learn first-hand how to do everything from refilling catsup dispensers to conducting employee interviews to accounting. Potential employees received personality tests, and often needed to be taught how to be proper, dependable and dress neatly.”

By December 1967, Burger Chef had become the second largest restaurant chain in the entire country, trailing only the golden arches of McDonald’s. In 1969, after being acquired by General Foods a year prior, Burger Chef opened its 1,000th restaurant. (The chain would eventually peak at 1,200 restaurants two years later — just 100 fewer than McDonald’s at the time.) Though General Foods had enjoyed success with some of its other brands, including Jell-O, its management style didn’t fit particularly well with the well-developed Burger Chef culture. General Foods issued an ill-advised redesign of the logo and attempted to revive a handful of stalled initiatives that had been abandoned years prior.

If Don and co. can land Burger Chef with Peggy’s family-oriented pitch, it’ll come not a moment too soon. In the real world, McCann Erickson got the Burger Chef account (and its $2.5 million in billings) in 1968, but resigned it in 1971, when Ogilvy & Mather picked it up. By 1982, when Burger Chef was sold to Hardee’s, it had just over half of the 1,200 restaurants it had at its peak in 1971. For comparison’s sake, McDonalds had reached 4,177 restaurants in 21 countries by 1976. In 1996, the final Burger Chef franchise in Cookeville, Tenn. was converted into a “Pleasers” restaurant.

Of course, in the Mad Men world, it doesn’t so much matter what happens to a client after it’s landed — the landing is what counts. And perhaps no pitch has been so important for the show’s protagonists as this one. Either Peggy and Don will finally find a way to work together and flourish as they once did (albeit with a markedly different power structure), or SC&P will likely meet a fate similar to that of the fast food chain it so badly wishes to sign.

Watch an Action-Packed New Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:05 PM PDT

If Hollywood hasn’t already reached peak superhero, studios are certainly getting close. But the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie is trying to offer something different amid the influx of spandex, power suits and caped collectives infiltrating theaters — sheer goofiness.

The first trailer from the movie, which debuted in February, offered an introduction to the intergalactic gang: Chris Pratt as heroic outlaw Peter “Star-Lord” Quill; Zoe Saldana as alien assassin Gamora; Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer; Bradley Cooper as a genetically engineered raccoon; and Vin Diesel as an arboriculturalist’s worst nightmare.

Now with ice breakers out of the way, a second trailer that premiered Monday teases much more of what awaits moviegoers come August: action, adventure and explosions galore.

Son-of-the-Year Makes Compilation Video of His Easily Scared Dad

Posted: 19 May 2014 12:00 PM PDT

What do you do if you’re dad is easily startled? Record yourself scaring him routinely and post it on the Internet, of course! This YouTube, posted by Andre Bennett, shows one of the many joys of having children.

(h/t: Tastefully Offensive)

Suspended Miguel Tejada Signs with Marlins

Posted: 19 May 2014 11:48 AM PDT

(MIAMI) — Suspended infielder Miguel Tejada has signed a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins.

Tejada is serving a 105-game suspension he began last year for testing positive for an amphetamine.

He would be eligible to play in the Marlins’ 65th game, which would be June 10 at Texas if they don’t have any other games rained out and postponed until after that date. He could appear in minor league games at Double-A or lower beginning May 31.

Tejada was with the Kansas City Royals last year when he drew one of the longest penalties handed down by Major League Baseball. The six-time All-Star was the AL MVP in 2002.

The Marlins also released veteran reliever Carlos Marmol on Monday. He had been designated for assignment after struggling in 15 games.

Former Obama Tech Czar: “Fast Lanes” Consistent with Net Neutrality

Posted: 19 May 2014 11:43 AM PDT

Aneesh Chopra, President Barack Obama's former chief technology officer, says the Federal Communications Commission's proposed rules on net neutrality are in line with what the White House supported in 2010.

The proposed rules, released last Thursday, have been highly controversial because they allow large, rich companies to pay Internet service providers to deliver their content more quickly and at a higher quality.

Open Internet advocates who support "net neutrality," the idea that all content on the Internet should be treated equally, argue that such provisions, known as "managed services," are akin to creating "fast lanes" and "slow lanes" on the Internet. They argue that if incumbent companies are allowed to pay for better delivery of their content, then small, shoestring start-ups that can't afford to pay-up will be disadvantaged, when their content is delivered more slowly, at a lower quality, or made to buffer endlessly.

Chopra says that critique misunderstands the problem. The point of the net neutrality rules is not to ban companies from purchasing access to faster, better service, he said; the point of the rules is to ensure that managed service agreements happen above board.

"In my personal opinion, the provision of managed services is not inconsistent with the principles of an open Internet, provided there is a robust level of oversight ensuring that we are not degrading the Internet service offerings for the rest of us," he said. "You can’t just say, ‘Go forth and build managed services, good luck.’ You’ve got to have a robust review cycle to make sure that they are living up to standards."

Chopra, who served at the White House from 2009 to 2012, had a front row seat when the FCC passed net neutrality rules in 2010. The D.C. Circuit Court overturned those rules in January of this year.

In an interview with TIME last week, Chopra weighed in on the FCC's most recent proposed rules on net neutrality, what sort of role the White House played in 2010, and what should happen next. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

TIME: From your perspective, how has the president approached net neutrality and how has the process has evolved since 2009?

ANEESH CHOPRA: I’ll start with the basic principle, which is that the president cares deeply about an open Internet and has stated so repeatedly… I’d then say that…it's important to remember that the 2010 rules had some of the same features that seem to have caused some of the controversy [today]. The idea of managed services…is present in those rules, provided that they were not unduly harming the viability of a more robust Internet for everyone else. …[The idea of managed services] is not inconsistent with the idea of an open Internet.

How is allowing for managed services not the same as creating a fast lane? Or does it create a fast lane and that’s ok?

No, no. Let me be specific about a use case. Let’s take the work of telemedicine [where a patient can video chat their doctor]… There are higher order requirements for a telemedicine visit involving a patient and a doctor – quality of service, making sure there aren’t as many obstructions – because people's lives and medical judgments are on the line. …Today there's sort of an expensive, complicated private network approach to getting doctors and hospitals to communicate back with patients…and the question is, why not use the Internet? But if you want to built it on top of the Internet you want to have a slightly higher order service. And that should be accommodated provided you’re not cutting the capacity of the core Internet backbone in order to do that…

But how can you allow certain industries—whether it's medicine, education, entertainment—to access better, faster Internet on a higher order tier, when it’s all the same tube? How does that not reduce the capacity for the rest of us?

I think the challenge here is really the idea that this is not a fixed pie. If I said to you, "There are four lanes and now I'm going to introduce these services I'm describing into one lane, and leave you only three lanes for everything else," then that may not meet the open Internet standard because you’re degrading service for the rest of us in order to accommodate these other services… But if the healthcare industry understands and has the ability to deliver the services it needs to over the Internet versus the truly private network, that introduces hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue a year into the system….

And that’s going to demand more investment—

Yeah… The core of the business model for these providers is they estimate the demand for their service. If the market grows, if there’s more revenue coming into the network, companies can reinvest more capital to expand and improve and invest… I just mentioned health care as one example…[but] how many industries in the U.S. economy have fully explored the Internet as a vehicle for a communication and engagement and development? There's a heck of a lot more to do and it might be the case that the introduction of services of this sort might create a lot more capital to expand the Internet capacity and even build even more…

But since most ISPs enjoy regional monopolies, we have to take whatever speed they give us. What motivation do they have to invest in increasing the capacity of the Internet for the rest of us?

You’re preaching to the choir. That's why we need to have these rules in place to protect the consumer. You’re making the case for me. That is why we need an open Internet rule…

But if your open Internet rule allows companies to pay ISPs to prioritize their service, then what interest do the ISP themselves have to expand the whole pie—to make sure those "other three lanes" don't get more clogged?

Well, because FCC chairman [Tom Wheeler] has said that he will not allow the degradation of a robust Internet for all of us in order to accommodate that new service. Unless I misread his comments, I think Chairman Wheeler spoke almost exactly to that issue by suggesting that he will review on a case-by-case basis whether these managed services are achieving the principles of an open Internet for all of us. I think [we need] a robust rule that the chairman writes that allows for him to essentially govern or monitor or regulate these capabilities…

You’re raising a great question. And believe me, I’m a huge—the president was deep on this and i was doing my job to help advise him on these issues where we were allowed to advise. The FCC’s independent, so obviously they are a separate matter. But my personal outside of the government opinion is that…the provision of managed services is not inconsistent with the principles of an open internet provided there is a robust level of oversight on ensuring that we are not degrading the internet service offerings for the rest of us. So you can’t have one without the other. You can’t just sort of say, ‘Go forth and build managed services, good luck.’ You’ve got to have a robust review cycle to make sure that they are living up to the standards. Now, if my memory is right… I believe in the 2010 order it was a reasonableness standard.

"Commercially reasonable."

Right. So the question is, "What’s the phrase that triggers the kind of review and oversight?" I don’t know the lawyerly answer to that, but I am confident they’ll have something that will give the chairman a role in ensuring that any of these services that I am describing are not at the detriment, are not at the expense of a robust Internet… I am extraordinarily bullish on the need for new open Internet rules. And I think what we’re talking about here are really mechanisms that preserve an open Internet while acknowledging that there are yet unknowns about the birth of new products and services that could leverage the Internet backbone to improve our lives.

Let's rewind a couple of years to when you were at the White House. There are so many stakeholders in an issue like this, how does the White House institutionally hear them all out and try to develop its own recommendations? Who was meeting with whom? What was the process inside the White House in order to keep the president informed?

So first and foremost, there are very strict rules to follow with regards to how the White House and the executive branch can involve themselves in the FCC’s activities. We file ex parte filings, for example, if the administration has comments it would like to file. Typically we’d do so through the head of the [National Telecommunications and Information Administration]. So official comments on behalf of the executive branch to the FCC we publish through that mechanism.

Every visitor to the White House is publicly available on the visitor logs, so you can search who visited the president and who visits Aneesh Chopra and who visits others in the executive branch. My role was to provide as much advice and counsel to the president and to the ultimate process, which is NTIA and Larry Strickland, who would communicate our administration’s position to the FCC. So we were very careful not to directly engage the FCC on matters on which they have an active proceeding. That stuff is all done formally through channels that were communicated clearly to us by the general counsel.

How involved was the president just in terms of getting briefed on this—how big of an interest did he take in this subject?

I would say that it's safe to characterize the president’s interest and passion on this issue as genuine and personal. He knows it. He’s talked about it. He talked about it not just domestically but internationally. He made a comment about it when he was in China. He knows the issue well. He is a firm believer in it. And my hope is that the policy that the FCC will carry forth will live up to the president’s vision of an open Internet. And I’m confident from what I've seen that the FCC is moving down a productive path.

Did you and the president disagree on these issues?

Generally speaking, we don’t comment on specific conversations with the president so I honor that.

Not specific conversations, but do you and the president see eye to eye on net neutrality?

I fully supported the president’s position wherever I could and did everything in my power to ensure that the policy activities that I worked on reflected the president’s commitments to these issues and to the best of my ability worked to see his vision come to life on a whole range of topics, including net neutrality.


Post a Comment